An Evaluation of the Specificity of Executive Function Impairment in Developmental Psychopathology.

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TitleAn Evaluation of the Specificity of Executive Function Impairment in Developmental Psychopathology.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsWhite, LK, Moore, TM, Calkins, ME, Wolf, DH, Satterthwaite, TD, Leibenluft, E, Pine, DS, Gur, RC, Gur, RE
JournalJ Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry
Date Published2017 Nov
KeywordsAdolescent, Adolescent Development, Adult, Child, Child Development, Executive Function, Female, Humans, Male, Mental Disorders, Philadelphia, Young Adult

OBJECTIVE: Deficits in executive function (EF) are common in neuropsychiatric disorders, but the specificity of these deficits remains unclear. The aim of the present study was to elucidate the pattern of EF impairment across psychopathologies in children and adolescents. Associations among components of EF with dimensions of psychopathology, including an overall psychopathology factor, were assessed.METHOD: Participants (8-21 years) were from the Philadelphia Neurodevelopmental Cohort (N = 9,498). Data from a structured clinical screening interview were reduced to 5 dimensional domains using factor analyses: overall psychopathology, anxious-misery, fear, externalizing, and psychosis. EF components of attentional vigilance, response inhibition, conceptual flexibility, and working memory were assessed. Associations of clinical dimensions with general EF ability and with specific EF components were examined.RESULTS: EF ability showed common and domain-specific associations with clinical symptoms. General EF was directly associated with the general psychopathology, anxious-misery, and psychosis domains but not with the fear or externalizing domains. For the EF subcomponents, differences emerged in the magnitude and direction of the association between components and clinical domains. Poorer EF was typically associated with increased symptoms across clinical domains; however, in some instances, better EF ability was associated with greater symptom burden, particularly in the fear domain.CONCLUSION: EF has widespread associations with psychopathology in youth. Findings showed some overlap in the type of EF impairment across clinical phenotypes, as indicated by similar patterns of associations between some clinical symptoms and EF. However, findings also showed domain-specific associations with EF that differed across EF components and clinical domains.

Alternate JournalJ Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry
PubMed ID29096780
PubMed Central IDPMC5815390
Grant ListP50 MH096891 / MH / NIMH NIH HHS / United States
R01 MH107235 / MH / NIMH NIH HHS / United States
RC2 MH089983 / MH / NIMH NIH HHS / United States